LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Churchill Downs Racetrack has entered into an agreement with Australian-based Steriline Racing to design and construct a new custom-made, 20-stall starting gate that will be used for the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I) on Saturday, May 2, 2020.
The new starting gate will be utilized exclusively for the Kentucky Derby and will replace Churchill Downs’ standard starting gate, which will continue to be used for all other races.
Starting gates have been in use for racing at Churchill Downs since 1930, with the first closed electronically-operated 14-stall starting gate introduced in 1941. A six-stall “auxiliary starting gate” addition, which was attached to the 14-horse starting gate, was first used in 1942 and 54 times for the Kentucky Derby within that period, including each of the last 22 years.
The starting gates allow the loading of horses into stalls through doors that are then closed behind them. At the start of a race, doors in front of the horses swing open automatically and simultaneously at the press of a button by Churchill Downs’ starter Scott Jordan. The origination of a 20-stall starting gate eliminates the wide gap between post position No. 14 in the standard gate and No. 15 in the auxiliary gate.
“We believe that a new custom-made, 20-stall starting gate will deliver a clean start for all horses and enhance safety for horses and riders in the Kentucky Derby,” said Mike Ziegler, Executive Director of Racing for Churchill Downs Incorporated. “We’re thrilled to partner with Australia’s Steriline Racing to supply this new starting gate at Churchill Downs.”
The new contiguous 20-stall starting gate, which is due to arrive in early April, is 65-feet wide and will fit comfortably within the 120-foot space on the racetrack at the quarter-mile pole for the start of the Kentucky Derby.
All starting gates at Churchill Downs are outfitted with high-quality foam padding from Best Pad™, a leading innovator of safety products for the horse racing industry that protect both jockeys and horses from injury. This seamless padding is applied to all metal surfaces of the starting gate, including front and rear poles, face plates, handrails, superstructure, and pontoons.
Steriline Racing specializes in the design, manufacture, installation and service of starting gates, running rail, winning posts, stewards towers and other racetrack equipment for the horse racing industry. They have supplied racetrack equipment to hundreds of race clubs in Australia and have exported to more than 50 countries around the world including Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the United States.
“It has been great to working with the Churchill Downs team.” said Steriline Racing CEO John Fargher. “They wanted to see one of our larger gates in action, so we travelled to the UK, where every single starting gate in that country has been manufactured by Steriline. York Racecourse has a 22-stall Steriline gate so this was the obvious location to demonstrate their dependability and reliability. We are excited to be a part of the most famous race in all of America.”
Steriline Racing’s racetrack equipment is used by many major horse racing organizations, including the Hong Kong Jockey Club (Happy Valley and Sha Tin Racecourses), Victoria Racing Club (Flemington Racecourse), Australian Turf Club (Royal Randwick Racecourse), Meydan Racecourse in Dubai and Royal Ascot in England.